Archive | January, 2012

Double Standards

30 Jan

Bedfords Conservative MP Richard Fuller made a valid point in his regular newspaper column last week about the council’s enthusisam for using its CCTV vans as cash registers as they snap anyone parking anywhere out of line for a few seconds. The actual traffic wardens are like most council staff, low paid, doing a job they’d much rather not do (apart from one of them who reminds me of Tackleberry from the Police Academy films and too thick to be a PCSO) and you can reason with them. They have a workable rappore with the local traders and know when to ignore a van loading up or delivering. The camera vans don’t afford this common sense approach as the happy snapper is remotely ensconced inside. As fast as its earning quids for Bedford Borough its slowly and surely chipping away at the connection between the authority and the community.

Chief supporter of the “fine em” approach is Cllr Rev Charles Royden shown below with his best friend. Charles is very eager to spout his views and get his picture in the paper however he was notably absent from an article in yesterday’s Bedfordshire on Sunday which showed a Borough Council vehicle parked dangerously outside a school.

Such anti social activities (a council phrase) near schools have been used by the Borough to fund two parking enforcement vehicles both of which have also been put to use against evil criminal masterminds in and around town like one nasty orrible retailer who needs to load furniture up outside his shop in order for his business to survive. The choice is common sense or an another empty shop!

I have my own solution to this stupidity from the council and on Saturday we all went to a vintage retro Emporium down St Albans! Free parking for three hours!


Setting Sight’s on Better Things!

30 Jan

I’ve been a member of Bedford Film Society for some years now, lately I’ve resurrected my interest in basic astronomy and on Tuesday’s with a group of likeminded people I peer through telescopes. For both I fork out a measly sum for membership.
I chanced upon three Lib Dem councillors in the pub last week all gassing away about nothing. MP in waiting Henry Vann was one of them and whilst it’s me getting older he still looks about 14 years old. Tim Hill was another and if they ever require someone to play Lenny in “Of Mice and Men” he’s the man.
Anyway these three characters pull in a minimum of £10,000 for being a councillor and as hard as I look (and I do look hard) I can’t see what they do to earn this amount. A look at the council website tells me they were at the Budget Scrutiny Committee at Borough Hall which started at 6.30pm and as they were in the pub for just gone 7.40pm at an hour and ten minutes given that some meetings last just minutes this I guess constitutes a record. £30,000 for yawning through meetings then off to the pub. One of my Bypass colleagues tells me to get on the gravy time instead of watching French films and spangling stars. No thanks, I was offered a safe Labour seat in Cauldwell ward some 18 years back and ultimately Randolph Charles who had been chomping at the bit for some years romped home. Like a lot of them he’s been there ever since, unopposed, seeing their council seat as there for eternity their right, when they lose, they skulk and make a stunning comeback and so some council seats haven’t seen new blood for well over a decade which makes me consider if a two term then bye bye situation might be a idea!
There’s always been a juggling act between officers and councillors, they need each other. Salaried officers often have their own “critical path” of targets and visions, councillors like to piggy back on these, ever searching for that media opportunity and coming to life when election time rolls round before it’s business as usual, the round of tedious meetings then off to the pub. There’s always been a form of tension between Chief Executives and Council leaders and then senior officers and Portfolio Holders. I make a point of knowing who is doing what on the council and seeing what their calibre is. I’ve worked with many, some were effective thinking outside the box, other’s were just staggeringly incompetent, there for their own purposes whether it’s the feel good factor or they simply had eye’s on a safe seat in the House of Commons. Dan Rogerson visited Bedford a few years back, councillor for a stint now he’s a MP down Cornwall. Susan Gaszsack was to be fair a very effective councillor but again her intention then and presumably still is, is parliament. Then there’s Henry in his sharp suit. The general rule is that you have to prove yourself by taking on a unwinnable seat to show you can cut the cloth, Henry came an uncomfortable third for the Bedford seat last time round and it remains to be seen if he stands again or if he heads off somewhere with brighter (Lin Dem orange) prospects.
Meanwhile I’m content looking at the stars, it’s much more interesting!

A Laugh at Your Expense!

29 Jan

Here’s Stephen Hester of RBS. He was in line for a bonus of £963,000 in share options for shedding 21,000 jobs, missing lending targets and watching the companies share price dip but he’s decided to stick with his bog standard salary of a meagre £1.2milllion. Cameron waffles on about something called moral capitalism, the red tops fill our heads with stuff about third rate celebreties and Vince Cable who recently said ” We will not stand idly by while bankers pay themselves gratuitious bonuses” is nowhere to be seen.

Hester shown below in his hunting gear, apart from his £1.2million wage, plus his £420,000 pension his pay packet could be in excess of £7million by the time you take into account all the other add on’s that are emerging like long term share option! There’s a little elite running the country totally immune from the much mentioned “all in it together” and Hester who owns a stately pile in Warwickshire is smack bang in the middle of a coterie that certainly knows its place.

This is the start of the annual “beano” of bonuses, cries of shame and so on, even the red top newspapers are getting in a lather, eventually it will be repalced by something else like Jordan’s new boyfriend, footballers screwing around and other such vital stuff leaving the “serious” to chew over the bones.

Meanwhile as expected and no doubt as part of his rehabilitation before he sneaks back to the front bench Liam Fox surfaced being interviewed on Radio 4 last week with no mention of last years little hiccup!

Think how many social workers or nurses this little lot could pay for!

On the Catwalk

26 Jan

Having said my bit about local MP Nadine Dorries, I forgot to say how much I enjoyed a few hours at Bedford College last night  (Wednesday), having arrived a tad too early we had a wander round an Open Day and then made our way to the South Banks Art Centre (it’s on the south side of the river so a good play on words). The event was a Victoriana Fashion Show and I was there with a friend who’s daughter was beavering away behind the scenes!

A mixed media event, I guess the evening was a jamboree of enthusiasm from a troupe of performing arts students, budding designers and models one or two who appeared to be both and some who showed both confidence style and grace, trainee lighting technicians, photographers and whoever I’ve missed out. This was the second show after an earlier afternoon matinee (that’s a Victorian term) with another two the day after.

The event kicked off with a well choreographed routine, dance doesn’t really describe it but the vocals were excellent,  if I have a slight criticism the whole show was a bit short at just over half an hour and I rather wished the singing troupe had made a second visit to the stage! Alright, not the sort of blog you expect on an openly anarchist website but we are after all, normal people!


Nadine Dorries

26 Jan

Some 20plus years ago I was at a concert in Liverpool, one of the songs on the agenda had caused ruffles and it centred on the right of women to choose their futures in cases of unwanted / unexpected pregnancy. Now I use the term “unwanted” here with the knowledge that in 1938 a Dr Alex Bournes was tried and acquitted of performing an illegal abortion on a 14 year old girl who had been gang raped and was suicidal. This case played a significant part in the lead up to the Abortion Act of 1967.
Back to the concert, as soon as the artist started to sign seven or so men attempted to bring the performance to a halt. Fists and flashing lights ensued. The song was sung!

Ever present is a group called the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child, SPUC who are an evangelical group and their latest idea is, through a shadow group called Safe in Schools attempting to get into schools on the basis that their message is the safest and it basically consists of “no sex till marriage, happy babies, happy families”.

Nadine Dorries has been closely linked with the anti abortion message, she denies this and states that expectant mothers should be provided with councilling before commiting to a termination which suggests that abortion agencies haven’t been providing this for some time. Nadine is also up in arms as a result of the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice giving a green light for adverts aimed at those finding out that they are pregnant. Nadine is aghast that broadcasters might make profit through carrying such adverts. Shock horror!
You can see that both SPUC and similar want a return to the good old days when abortions were carried out in back rooms through a variety of methods involving gin, falling downstairs and the use of knitting needles.

Whilst Nadine states a softer side, this being full access to all options SPUC and other church based groups clearly want an end to legal abortion however Nadine’s recent (failed) bill would have made it a requirement to promote sexual abstinence and you can see echoes of the Silver Ring Thing campaign from the States in this and as one spokesperson against the bill stated in the Beds on Sunday newspaper, the bill if passed would have allowed religious schools to teach / preach the virtue of “no sex till wed” and nothing else and my mother told me that in all honesty she was 14 before she found out that babies didn’t come from under cabbages. This might sound absurd but it is true and in a pre war Britain the basic teaching of sex education just didn’t happen, unplanned pregnancy was rife as were illegal abortions. Nadine denies this and says her bill was about empowering young girls.

Not content with things, Ms Dorries manages to state that such adverts will be great for articulate well educated pregnant women but not the more vulnerable women which can only be a reference to the great unwashed who, a week or two after a friday night shag end up in despair and will go straight to an advertised clinic who will then perform an abortion as soon as she’s sat on the couch.

Its all total rubbish. History has shown that as a resuly of the inability to obtain safe legal abortions, thousands were driven to the back street methods and within this there were people able to perform the duty with a level of safety but many more couldn’t with the result being that in the years between the two world wars, 15% of maternal deaths were as a result of illegal abortions with septicaemia being the main cause.

The 1967 act came in but still only allowed abortion under certain conditions and it has been a long struggle to get to the position today. In 1974 Labour MP James White attempted to get the bill overturned with the support of an anti choice group and was greeted with womens groups brandishing coat hangers (the back room abortionists tool of choice). The bill failed.

Nadine Dorries looks set to loose her seat in the next parliament due to boundary changes, she may be out at sea or she may get a safe seat somewhere else. I shall miss her only because she’s an oddity and a maverick and as she’s not my MP her meanderings make me appreciate how defunct parliament is.

In the meantime if you haven’t seen it already have a look at the film Vera Drake with Imelda Staunton.

The Road to Bedford Pier

23 Jan

We ended up in Wigan last Saturday, I’ve not been there for twenty years or more but the opportunity came our way. Gill opted to use the car to “quickly” scoot over to Liverpool so that left three of us stranded in this northern town. What to do then? Well we decided to scour the second hand shops of which there are many looking for a copy of George Orwell’s “Road to Wigan Pier” eventually giving up after four hours and still no sign of Gill and the car.
We altered the rules to include WH Smiths so Debs set off to find the local history section whilst we ordered another coffee in a wonderful little shop called The Coven (a Pagan vegan restaurant). She returned empty handed so rather than bend the rules again and go into Waterstones we called it quits and gave up!
To say Wigan is down on its knees is wrong as wherever you go there’s a gritty determination to see things through. Some planning cock up has resulted in the town centre having three shopping arcade, one features all the regulars, Waterstones, HMV and so on and once you are inside you might as well be anywhere. An earlier arcade opposite was like the House of Commons on a Friday, empty units festooned with signs and just one shop open for business. Sneak off the main road and that’s when Wigan and most towns start to show that flare for uniqueness. The genuine independent shop! Someone’s quest and gamble and once we’d found these the money started flowing in a one way direction and we started to get over the disappointment of not finding George Orwell.

By venturing off the main drag  we discovered The Coven and it seems the local Christians don’t like them there, two days after eating some yummy cheese cake I’m not toad shaped or overly influenced by the moon as yet! We also found a statue of George Formby who away from his ukelele strumming character made his disgust of apartheid very clear whilst touring South Africa many many pagan moons ago. And Wigan loves him for this as much as his “silly” songs and films.
Back to Bedford and it’s the same though our town spawned Ronnie Barker (dead) and Carol Voorderman (alive)* neither of whom wanted / want anything to do with Bedford. Years of botched planning, ill thought out ideas like demolishing the oldest surviving buildings in town and losing the bits that were saved for prosperity, grand schemes that common sense tells you won’t work and then bad investment that all result in some seriously sterile areas that have done as much for the town as the plague did . Filled with shops but no soul. Then there’s the shops that add to the town rather than detract, the ones that you need to hunt down. There’s Pensieri down Ram Yard where you can get a bite to eat, next door is Lady Ks for all things burlesque, Batman stands guard outside the comic shop and tucked away off Lime St is Rose Tinted Vintage. We’ve featured some of these places on the rather lacklustre Things to do page which was someone else’s idea and which with a bit of work will be updated later this week. Bedford’s a nice little town spoilt by two things, a bunch of councillors who at any one time seem content to just muddle through and bodge and then there’s a population that seems indifferent to the whole thing. We have some interesting shops some of which give me a kick up the rear and make me get into Bedford on Saturday. There’s even County Town books which clings on. I’m going to go there next Saturday and buy George Orwell’s “Road to Wigan Pier”

* and John Le Mesurier of Dads Army fame before anyone thinks to tell us!

Bedford BID

22 Jan

Jacqui Manners of Manners PR has left two comments one pointing out that Ian Pryce of Bedford College is CEO and we might have sold him short!
Jacqui has also added a comment on a recent blog about the Bedford BID asking why we mentioned the controversy so long after the event. The Bedford BID aims to promote Bedford as a fun place to shop although its not as well liked by shopkeepers or Councillors as maybe it should be. Well much of the diatribe against the Bedford BID came from one of the High Streets longest serving buisnessmen and traders over a hot chocolate and he didn’t have a good thing to say about it. Others described it as an 11th hour attempt to stop people going to Milton Keynes or Cambridge. Jacqui tries to sell the Bedford BID by telling us that Cllr Louise King is on the board. Wow! Cllr King can’t be arsed responding to emails so it doesn’t make me want to change my mind and see the BID as a good idea. Its an extra tax on small traders, nothing more nothing less.

I like Jacqui Manners, she knows me but probably hasn’t joined the dots up so I might give her a bell, I did promise last time we met. That said she’s responsible for PR input into the BID and if those paying into it through strongarm tactics are critical (putting it mildly) somethings not quite working!

Comment from Ian Pryce

17 Jan

Ian Pryce who is the long serving Principle of Bedford College has posted a comment following our blog entitled Million Pound Drop. As we are more than happy to let readers view comments please look at it. Thanks go to Ian for his efforts. On a related note Ian generates a lot of respect and support from his staff and students and Bedford College is one of many positive aspects of Bedford, it’s high jinks at Borough Hall where things go wrong. There, just in case we never say anything nice!

Michele’s back in town!

17 Jan

One of the reasons why Bedford Bypass was set up was our local Council (Bedford Borough) inability to manage a piss up in a brewery. Total crap service not from across the board but from a select number of toss pot soaked departments.

The Borough are always on about how important recycling is yet in something like a scene from Groundhog Day the bins are always full and the Council seem incapable of emptying them. When they miss their targets they keep quiet but are eager to claim the credit for the work of others, mostly the bin crews who don’t work for the council and are employed by through an agency. It’s dire work. They tell us. Quite often.

Michele Waldron is one of a majority of well paid staff Borough staff that hang round the office, don’t live in Bedford and are paid by us to manage waste and recycling. She was quite good at coming up with excuses as to why bins weren’t emptied but not that good at actually doing it. She left in 2010 for pastures new, green grass and in line with her track record it didn’t last long so she’s come back. It;s not gone down that well with the folk who remember her from her last short stint. The all manner of strange things go one according to the bin crews. They tell us. Quite often!

Here’s a recycling bin at a busy little spot in Town. Neither use nor ornament to anyone!

Last time Michele worked for Bedford she went missing for a few hours, people were trying to find her and eventually she turned up having nipped out in work time to buy a rabbit which was then paraded round all the offices. Hard work I guess and at the same time the Borough insists on using agency staff for all the shit work!  Its one set of rules for the toasty office types and another for the people that do the graft. They tell us! Quite Often!

One law for some!

16 Jan

APart from being an overpaid TV chef and shoplifter Anthony Worrall Thompson is two faced twat who apparently enjoys a bit of fundraisng for the Tories. Whether this involves selling cheese stolen from Tesco isn’t clear but here’s a statement made after last years riots!

“I am fully in favour of this campaign, getting behind this will show these thugs that they have made a big mistake”

Worrall Thompson was talking about screwing those convicted in the aftermath of the riots and before anyone bleats shame, we didn’t nor will we ever support damage to personal property in any form.

What is clear is that as numerous people languish behind bars for nicking a bottle of mineral water and similar petty stuff, if you are a celebrity chef apart from a few jokes you can get off with a caution for repeated offences and then milk the “I’m seeking help” and ” don’t we love Anthony the poor man” thing.

Good old Tesco, why didn’t they press charges!